National Press Club

Live webcast: Are federal public affairs offices a help or hindrance to journalists?

August 8, 2013 | By John M. Donnelly |

Full video:

The National Press Club plans to webcast live a debate Monday evening over whether federal public affairs offices are crimping the flow of information about the U.S. government.

The event, co-sponsored by the Club’s Press Freedom Committee and the Young Members Committee, can be viewed live here.

Public affairs offices increasingly require that reporters conduct all interviews through the press office. U.S. departments and agencies often mandate or strongly suggest that their employees talk to reporters only through official channels and with communications staff present.

Public affairs professionals believe these controls are necessary to ensure that the press gets accurate information and the department or agency’s message is unified and coherent.

The event will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 12 in the Club’s conference rooms.

Click here to register.

The panel will be moderated by John M. Donnelly, chairman of the NPC Press Freedom Committee and a senior writer with CQ Roll Call. and the group includes:

Tony Fratto, managing partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, a strategic communications and crisis management consultancy, an on-air contributor on the CNBC Business News Network, and formerly deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and principal deputy press secretary;

John Verrico, president-elect of the National Association of Government Communicators;

Linda Petersen, managing editor, The Valley Journals of Salt Lake, freedom of information chair for the Society of Professional Journalists, and president of the Utah Foundation for Open Government;

Carolyn Carlson, former Associated Press reporter, assistant professor of communication at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, and author of two surveys on the relationship between public affairs staff and the press, and

Kathryn Foxhall, a freelance reporter who has extensively researched the issue.

For additional information, contact John M. Donnelly, NPC Press Freedom Committee chairman at

The National Press Club Press Freedom Committee leads Club efforts to speak out about potential threats to press freedom and open government in the United States and abroad and to promote greater transparency and protections for journalists.

The Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Founded in 1908, it comprises some 3,000 reporters and news sources.